Publisher: Walker Children
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.
Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?
Set in during the Victorian Era, Haunting Violet follows Violet Willoughby, a daughter of a fake medium, who reluctantly participates in her mother's, Celeste Willoughby, elaborate schemes to deceive others into believing they can communicate with their dead loved ones. When Violet's mother was invited in the home of Spiritualist Lord Jasper, Celeste not only sees it as an opportunity gain new clients but for her daughter to make an advantageous marriage that will financially and socially help their family--Celeste wants nothing more than to be accepted in the fashionable society as a respectable lady. Although Violet did attract the attention of a proper young man, she cannot stop thinking about Colin, an orphaned boy her mother had took in from the streets and who Violet grew up with. But soon Violet realize that she can see and communicate with real spirits when the ghost of a murdered girl makes herself know to Violent through frightening visions and violent acts. Good thing she has her friend Elizabeth by her side who has a penchant for adventure. But Violet dare not let anyone know of her new found gift except for Colin, who understands her more than anyone. As the ghost gets more violent, Violet knows she must solve the mystery of her death before the murder strikes again.
I liked the character of Violet right from the beginning. She grew up with a mother like Celeste who was selfish, self-serving, sometimes mercenary and I felt bad for her. She had to assist her in fake seances which often felt made her feel guilty having to dupe innocent people but she knows that the ruse was the only way they get their income and so she does what her mother tells her. She was under her mother's thumb in the beginning but by the end of book, she came to her own and I liked seeing that growth in her character. The romance between Violet and Colin was really sweet and one of my favorite parts of the book. Those who are not fans of a romance in their reads, no worries, the story is not centered on Violet and Colin's romance and it's more a natural progression of their friendship. I really liked how their romance came to be, that they were best friends before they realize their feelings for each other.
As for the angry ghost, she was truly frightening as she always appeared to Violet drowned with the bruises from her murderer. There were some scenes that were truly scary like when Violet was in her bedroom and the ghost made the illusion of filling the bedroom with the pond water so that Violet was "drowning" too. If it was a movie, I'd be covering my eyes with my fingers during the angry ghost scenes. The mystery itself was easy to figure out but that could've been just me because I like to solve puzzles and I like to work them out in my mind. The setting of the novel, which was during the Victorian Era and for most of the book at a manor house in the country, really help set the tone for this Gothic ghost story--I pictured in my mind the whole novel being dark and somber with a film of fog over everything outside and I really like that atmospheric feel the author conveyed.
A thing that fascinated me was the elaborate smoke and mirrors act that Violet, Colin and Celeste put on. The whole Spiritualist thing really happened and was quite popular back then. There were really people like Celeste in the Victorian Era putting on this act and people were so desperate to hold on to their loved ones that already passed away that they let themselves be convinced that they really were talking to the dead. Or to some people "talking to the dead" was a form of entertainment. I thought that part of the novel felt authentic and was very well-researched by the author.
Haunting Violet was my first novel by Alyxandra Harvey and I quite enjoyed her writing--it was very readable and she can tell a good story. I found this novel to be a delightful and engaging read--part ghost story and part mystery with great characters and a sweet romance. I enjoyed the time period in which it was set and the world of Spiritualist (fake or otherwise) fascinating. I don't know if there will be a sequel because the story line was concluded quite nicely [Yay! No crazy cliffhangers!] but I wouldn't mind revisiting Violet's world again. 4 out of 5 stars